While eyes were on SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical and Mean Girls, which had received 12 nominations each, it was actually David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’ intimate musical The Band’s Visit which took home 10 prizes, including Best Musical, at the Tony Awards 2018.
Based on a 2007 Israeli movie with a middle-Eastern-flavoured score, there were some cynics who doubted that this charming story about a small Egyptian orchestra who accidentally arrives in the wrong Israeli town, would succeed on the Great White Way after its successful run Off-Broadway in 2016. But the Tony Awards judges were obviously enchanted, resulting in the show only losing out in one of its nominated categories (scenic design, which went to David Zinn for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, the show’s only award of the night).
The Band’s Visit won Best Musical, along with Best Score for David Yazbek, Best Book for Itamar Moses and Best Book for David Cromer, while three of the musical’s performers came out on top: leading actor Tony Shalhoub, leading actress Katrina Lenk and features actor Ari’el Stachel.
Elsewhere Best Musical Revival was awarded to Once on This Island (not either of the classics, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel or My Fair Lady), although Carousel did come away with two prizes, for featured actress Lindsay Mendez and choreographer Justin Peck.
Despite 10 nominations, there was only one win for My Fair Lady (Catherine Zuber for costumes) but it was a tough night for 12-times nominated Mean Girls which came away from the ceremony at Radio City Music Hall empty-handed. There were no awards either for Frozen or Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.
Musical theatre icons Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber both received special recognition awards as did rock legend Bruce Springsteen who has been selling out on Broadway with his solo concerts.
One of the most moving moments of the ceremony was when students from Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sang ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent.